This Syrian Refugee Sold Pens To Survive, But Look At What He’s Doing Now…
Abdul Halim al-Attar, a refugee from Syria, used to sell pens on the streets of Beirut to survive. According to AP, online journalist and web developer in Norway, Gissur Simonarson, created the Twitter account @Buy_Pens where he posted a photograph of al-Attar in action with his daughter draped over his shoulder.
Simonarson also started an Indiegogo campaign to raise a total of $5,000 for the family. After three months, the campaign raked in nearly $190,000 in donations.
Al-Attar, a father of two, has since opened three food businesses in Lebanon where he employs other refugees. He has also shared about $25,000 with friends and family. He and his wife, who has returned to Syria, are currently separated.
He has now moved with his two children, 4-year-old daughter Reem and 9-year-old son Abdullelah, from a one bedroom to a two bedroom apartment in southern Beiruit. Abdullelah was able to return to school after three years of absence.
Disbursement of the funds, however, has been a struggle. Al-Attar has received only 40 percent of about $168,000, the total after Indiegogo and Paypal processing and banking fees. In addition, Paypal does not operate in Lebanon, and al-Attar has had to rely on a friend of the campaign to withdraw the money in Dubai.
Though it is unknown when he will receive the rest of his money, al-Attar remains positive. He says that he is treated better and better, and feels more like a member of the community among both Lebanese and Syrians.
Abdul Halim al-Attar, a Palestinian refugee from Syria, used to sell pens on the streets of Beiruit.
Journalist Gissur Simonarson created Twitter and Indiegogo accounts to help raise money for the family. His efforts resulted in over $190,000 of donations.
Al-Attar has since opened three businesses.
Al-Attar stands outside his bakery on Thursday, November 26, 2015.
"When God wants to grant you something, you'll get it," he told AP with a smile despite disbursement issues. The father of two has received only 40 percent of $168,000, the total after processing and banking fees.
Even still, life has improved for the al-Attar family.
In terms of housing, the family is now able to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Reem will be able to start school while brother Aboudi, pictured right, will be able to return after three years of absence.
Visit the @Buy_Pens Twitter account for more information.